Fear plays a big part in ‘The Crucible’. The character of Reverend Parris fears being driven from his position in the church; “There is a faction that is sworn to drive from my pulpit” (page 8). In the stage directions it says “Reverend Parris is praying now, and, although we cannot hear his words, a sense of confusion hangs about him”. This shows that he is in a state when he speaks those words and is struck with fear. Reverend Parris is not liked by his congregation because they believe he is more interested in material possessions than the words of god so he fears that his position could be lost.
This was not the norm for Reverends then as religion was the most important thing to everyone at this point in time and obviously as reverend should he should be more interested in god than other material possessions. Parris shows fear again for the second time in the play when he is afraid of the consequence of dabbering with the dead.
“Goody Ann, it is a formidable sin to conjure up the dead! ” (Page 12). Parris is refusing to accept that Salem has a problem with witchcraft. Mary Warren is another character that shows fear in The Crucible.
She fears hanging for not telling the truth about what happened in the woods that night. ‘Abby, we’ve got to tell. Witchery’s a hangin’ error, a hangin’ like they done in Boston two year ago! We must tell the truth, Abby! You’ll only be whipped for dancin’, and the other things! ‘ (Page 14) She really thinks she should tell the truth and is struggling to convince Abigail to do this.
Here she’s really panicking and fear stricken and Arthur miller portrays this well because he uses lots of exclamation marks to show her alarm and distress at what is going on and you can see how much she knows what is happening is not right.
Later in the play Mary Warren shows fear again, not by what she says but how she says it. When she is questioned about the poppet she made in court, the stage directions show the reader how she fears for herself. ‘Frightened for herself, her voice very small’ (Page 61) As it shows in these stage directions, she is worried she has done something wrong and the audience can see this because it says of how her voice becomes very ‘small’. In these circumstances with all the hysteria in Salem she is more worried about what she has been asked than what she normally would be and Arthur Miller shows this well in the stage directions.
At the time when the play was written many people living in America felt threatened by communism and a government committee was put together to identify all communists. Arthur Miller was called to the court and was placed in nearly exactly the position John Proctor was put in during the play. Because he was in such a similar position to John Proctor, this would have helped him when writing the play because he would know exactly how to write John Proctors parts and create his character to stand for the truth, rather than forfeit others; both John and Miller remain silent.
As a result of the McCarthy trials against communism in America taking place during his lifetime, Arthur Miller experienced the raw emotions firsthand. The trials were practically identical to the Salem witch trials and as Arthur Miller was experiencing them first hand this would have made writing this play a much more emotional experience. He could see how people were reacting so he could transfer these emotions into his play which made his work much more realistic. For example, good innocent people were made to become paranoid and then do anything – even lie to save themselves and in the play the audience can see how he has shown this.
The people who lived in the village of Salem were all puritans and believed that god would only accept them if they were pure people. These beliefs ultimately destroyed them because the people of Salem would do anything not to be found guilty. As the audience see, the power of superstition, fear and revenge can distort the truth and these were all reasons for the accusations that flew. Arthur Miller portrayed the emotions well in ‘The Crucible’ by letting them shine through his characters. The play does not just show these emotions, it makes the audience feel the tension, the angst and the desperation.